Vicar 'accessed child porn while working'

Published

A vicar accessed indecent images of children on the computer in his Staffordshire vicarage, a court heard.

The Reverend Dominic Stone, of Marchington, denies 16 counts of making indecent images of children on 7 and 8 January 2009.

Hundreds of indecent images of adults and children were found on the computer, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors said the defence would allege the images were downloaded by somebody other than Mr Stone.

Prosecutor Michelle Heeley said the computer belonging to the 47-year-old, who is the team vicar of Marchington, Marchington Woodlands, Kingstone and Leigh, was seized by police in January last year and checked by a specialist.

'Legitimate purposes'

It is alleged the father of two was the only person with access to the computer and that evidence showed he used it for "legitimate purposes" at around the time the images of children were downloaded.

He searched the internet for children's activities linked to the Epiphany while at the vicarage on the same day that he is accused of downloading indecent images, the court heard.

Ms Heeley said: "The defence accept that the indecent images of children exist on this defendant's computer, but it is their case that somebody else must have accessed them.

"Whoever was looking at these (images) didn't just accidentally stumble across them - they saw the image and they looked at it again.

"The only person at the vicarage at that time was this defendant.

Virus theory

"There was nobody else at the vicarage at that time that could have physically accessed that computer."

The court was told that Stone, who accepts that he was the only person who accessed the computer for work, gave a number of explanations as to why the material was present on the computer.

In interviews with police, he suggested that someone else may have had a key for the vicarage or that the computer may have been infected by a virus.

But Ms Heeley said no one else had a key to the vicarage.

"The prosecution say that the only person it could possibly be is this defendant," she added.

The trial continues.

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